By Jacqueline Quynh

DENVER (CBS4) – Asian Americans in Denver are stunned by the deadly shooting in Atlanta. Some fear an attack like that one could happen here because of a rise in Asian hate.

“I heard about what happened yesterday in Atlanta, and I was really disgusted,” Alyssa Noguchi said.

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Noguchi’s family runs Pacific Mercantile Company, a longstanding Japanese grocery store at Sakura Square in downtown Denver.

“As a person that is involved in the Asian community right now, it’s really scary because it could have happened anywhere,” she said.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia says the suspect indicated he had a sexual addiction and had a “very bad day.”

“He does claim that it was not racially motivated. And see these locations as something that allows him to, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Capt. Jay Baker, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman.

However, Noguchi, who’s family came to Denver during World War II, a time when Japanese Americans were being interned at camps; calls this is a double standard.

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“They’re protecting him in a way, you have to call it what it is, it’s a hate crime,” she added.

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Joie Ha is the founder of Community Organizing Radical Empathy (C.O.R.E), a group that advocates for equality.

“This type of thing has been happening to our communities ever since Asians arrived here, and I think it’s with the coronavirus that it’s really spiked,” Ha explained.

Ha talked about the need to report crimes against Asians. Traditionally many in Asian cultures have valued holding back, and not wanting to cause a stir. She remembers being harassed recently in Denver.

“It happened in a park, it was close to my school, there were people there, no one stepped in, while she was yelling at me, she had this racist tirade going on, and no one checked on me afterward. I think it goes to show how normalized racism against Asian Americans truly is,” she shared.

Ha believes, if there’s anything to be gained from these tragedies, it’s to work towards ending Asian hate.

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Jacqueline Quynh